It's my vegan birthday!
It was my vegan birthday this week. Happy vegan birthday to me! Someone shove some soy candles on a dairy free cake, stat!
Three years ago, my brother shared Dairy is Scary on Facebook. Before he did that, I thought eating bacon was cool and leather was a sign of quality. I’d never heard of squalene even though I was smothering it all over myself. I thought I was a healthy sort of person, yet I ate cheese and butter. I loved the chickens roaming free in my garden, yet I ate other chickens for dinner.
I thought I was an environmentally conscious sort of person because I recycled, yet I knew nothing of the environmental consequences of animal agriculture. I thought I cared about animals, because sometimes when I saw a dog I would pet it and I got upset on the rare occasion I actually saw an animal suffer, yet I never gave a thought to all the animals who’d suffered for my supper.
I ate animals, I wore animal products, I used cosmetics that had animal derivatives in and had been tested on animals, because I just didn’t think about these things.
At first I didn’t watch Dairy is Scary, because I knew there would be graphic footage of mistreated cows and who wants to see that while they’re an animal loving cheese eating sort of person? I scrolled on.
But something made me go back.
Five minutes later I was vegan.
I didn’t even know what that really meant, back then. But I knew I could never consume dairy products again. Over the ensuing months, I watched documentaries and read articles about this new found thing I was - vegan. And the more I learned, the more I alligned myself with the philosophy.
It wasn’t just about what I ate. It was about finding out squalene was an oil extracted from shark liver,: typically the shark is caught, sliced brutally, de-livered, then thrown back into the sea to die. Sharks are awesome. This practise is not. It was about taking all of two seconds to scan an ingredients list before I buy any sunscreen, cosmetics, shampoo or conditioner that may contain animal products or have been tested on animals. It was about applying the same quick ingredients check to the food and booze I bought. It’s no big deal. It takes TWO SECONDS. It was about never buying leather again, because leather is just a fancy pants way of deflecting the fact we’ve normalised the wearing of a dead animal. See also down, wool and cashmere. Sheep may not have died for their wool, but I couldn’t be sure they hadn’t suffered and who wants to wear animals anyway? If fur has become shameful, why not leather or wool?
Becoming vegan has made me most proud to be me. It doesn’t always make you friends, but while you might lose friends and alienate people, you don’t contribute to as much killing and suffering and wrecking of the planet, so that’s nice.
I have questioned everything I once thought was normal. I have learned so much that I feel more educated. Of course, veganism is not without consequence - just by living, even the most vegan vegan continues to inflict pain and suffering to others somewhere along the line, but I hope I cause a lot less harm than I used to. I hope I’ve inspired one or two or three people to make better choices, without being a dick about it.
Using this calculator I can estimate that on this, my third vegan birthday, I have saved 1,204,500 gallons of water, because the farming of plants uses a shit ton less water than the farming of animals. And I’ve saved 1,095 animals - hurrah!
Climate scientists estimate that we’ve got 12 good years left, unless we sort our shit out. According to this report, avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to - as individuals - reduce climate change. It would be nice if governments and mega-corporations stopped putting profit first and did more on a huge scale, but we can’t leave it all up to the guys at the top, can we? Because individually we are 7.7 billion people, so we kinda gotta do what’s right.